Business Practices in Italy

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The Fundamental Principles of Business Culture
Good manners and politeness are qualities appreciated by the Italians. Make sure you always behave politely. Italians hate arrogant or condescending behavior.
Physical contact is common among Italians, so if you move away or keep your distance, you may be seen as cold and unfriendly. Style is very important, especially for women. Italians are very lax about time-keeping. However, you should not keep people waiting as this could be considered as a lack of respect and as laziness.
First Contact
Appointments must be made by letter (in Italian) three weeks in advance and confirmed by telephone or by fax (still in Italian).
It can be very useful to be introduced by somebody who knows you already. The Italians prefer to do business with people they know and in whom they trust.
When you meet people, always shake hands. When you have met several times and have established closer relations, do not be surprised if people embrace you when you meet. It means that your relationship has become more personal.
How to Present Yourself
Give your first name and your surname.
Business Relations
Business relations should always be cultivated, both in a group and individually.
Do not give a business gift until you receive one first.
You will be expected to bring gifts to social events, especially to express your thanks after being invited to dinner at someone's home.
If you bring wine, make sure it's a good vintage, quality is more important than quantity. Avoid black (mourning) or purple (bad luck) packing. Do not offer chrysanthemums (funeral), red flowers (symbols of secret), and yellow flowers (signs of jealousy).
Business Communication
Discussions are often very lively. You begin to get to the heart of the matter after the first 15 minutes. Never use expressions that are too direct and do not raise your voice too much, but silence is not appreciated either. The Italians prefer face to face contact.
Dress Code
Dress is a priority. It represents your lifestyle, your status and your skills. The Italians are extremely careful in their presentation.
For men: a dark business suits.
For women: suit or classic dress.
Visiting Cards
Business cards are exchanged at the beginning of the meeting. It will be appreciated if you present your business card translated into Italian. Include your title on your business card: the Italians like to know what place their contacts have in their societies.
For Further Information
Doing Business in Italy
Italian culture and customs

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